Carette: coffee, macaroons, Americans and old ladies

It’s a standard of the Trocadero area, an old-world tearoom with a reputation for pastries and macaroons. I remember an aunt taking me there for breakfast – toast for her, almond croissant for me – when I was a child. Carette has been there since the 1920s (um, not that I was a child back then!). And then it got a little old, and a little run-down… And then it closed for redecoration a couple years ago. Its Art Deco setting was kept intact, just freshened up. And now, it’s got a new menu, a great terrace and a new lease on life.

If you’re visiting Paris and walking around the Eiffel tower, the Museum of Modern Art, and our Human Rights Esplanade (yes, we have a Human Rights Esplanade – it’s pretty, marbled, and mostly used by demonstrators and skateboarders)… If you’re strolling around there and wondering which café to plop down in on Trocadero Square, this is your winner.

First of all, because the cakes and pastries really are lovely.

The macaroons are great; they’re not quite of Laduree or Pierre Herme caliber, but the Paris macaroon wars have forced Carette to get more creative with its flavors. The blackcurrant-violet is a fruity explosion, the salted caramel is sticky and yum, the rose flavor is not up there with Laduree’s but it does carry that definite oriental note. Macaroons, cakes, croissants: go in with your eyes closed, you won’t go wrong.

Second, for the crowd. It’s an international bunch with a very chic feel. Local Parisians do monopolize the terrace when it’s sunny, or sit indoors for a business meeting – or a hung-over brunch. Otherwise, it’s foreign languages all over the place, which makes it kind of fun to eavesdrop! One Franco-British acquaintance scheduled our appointment there and told me sheepishly that he loved the place because, “It’s all Americans and old ladies”. True; I’ll add that I’ve also bumped into a coworker now and then, having a lazy morning, or spotted a French film star gazing longingly at the sweets.

Third, you can have a great lunch or dinner there, too. Carette now stays open into the evening, with the kitchen taking orders until 11.30 pm. The Club sandwich is generous and very good. There are also omelets, salads, and a couple “Plats du jour” and soups on offer everyday. The wine list is well chosen (the Saint-Amour is a lovely red, and not just by name), the champagne is R de Ruinart, and they will make you a Bellini, too.

It’s also a calmer scene at dusk than in the daytime. With Paris sunlight stretching all the way to 10pm in the summer, it’s a beautiful place to have an aperitif or simple, comfort-food dinner. I was there with a friend recently, on a tired Sunday evening – great company, slight breeze, a view onto the Trocadero as night came down… The kind of peaceful moment that makes you love this city even more.

Footnotes – Carette is located at 4 Place du Trocadero in the 16th, and is open everyday from 7am to midnight. A second location was just launched at 24 Place des Vosges in the 3rd; it is open everyday from 8am to 11.30pm.

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